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August 20, 2017 1:28 pm

German Engineering Giant Owned by Volkswagen Eager to Re-Enter Iranian Market

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avatar by Ben Cohen

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel – now Foreign Minister – is greeted by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in Tehran in 2015. Photo: File.

An engineering subsidiary of German car giant Volkswagen has announced that it is restarting its operations in Iran, official Iranian media outlets reported on Sunday.

Gaby B. Hanna, vice-president and regional head of MAN Diesel & Turbo – which produces diesel engines for marine and land use on a mass scale – described Iran as “the biggest growth market for us.”

“We are very active in Iran. We’ve restarted our company there, called MAN Iran Power,” Hanna said. “We see Iran, putting aside all the political issues, as a big market for us.”

Volkswagen has been the dominant shareholder in the Augsburg-based MAN since 2012, when it acquired 75 percent of the company’s voting rights. MAN generates revenue of over $15 billion annually, and retains more than 53,000 employees around the world.

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MAN’s parent company has also re-entered the Iranian market. In July, Volkswagen announced that it would be exporting its Tiguan and Passat brand models to Iran. Overall, Germany remains one of Iran’s most lucrative trading partners; in the immediate aftermath of the lifting of international sanctions on the Tehran regime following the 2015 nuclear deal, German exports to Iran rose to $1.3 billion in the first six months alone.

However, MAN CEO Uwe Lauber cautioned that Iran’s banking sector – still kept at arms length by the international community because of activities that include terrorism-financing and money laundering – would slow the pace of any German investment effort.  “Until they have their banking sector sorted out, there will still be difficulties,” he said.

MAN said it had acquired a plant in Iran to manufacture turbomachinery, which converts the energy from fluids into mechanical energy. Other major German concerns in Iran include such well-known names as Krupp, Siemens, and Mercedes.

As was the case with many German manufacturing companies, MAN was rescued from collapse by the advent of Nazi rule in the 1930s. During World War II, 40 percent of Germany’s tanks were produced at the MAN works in Nuremburg.

Meanwhile, Iranian leaders continue to fret over the prospect of tougher US sanctions. On Sunday, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani abruptly reversed earlier threats to withdraw from the nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – because of American pressure, portraying it instead as Iran’s most vital national interest.

“Standing up for the JCPOA means standing up to Iran’s enemies,” Rouhani declared.

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